Center Opens the Doors (and Windows) for Esler Companies

Case Study


  • Manufacturing


  • 2,000+ employees


  • Simplicity
  • Real-time functionality
  • Affordability

Before Center

  • Average cost of ~$225,000 for legacy expense tracking system
  • Uneven acceptance rate (especially with municipalities) for AMEX credit cards 
  • An inefficient user experience  
  • Days-long delays before transactions were visible  
  • Minimal support and slow response from customer service  

After Center

  • Zero out-of-pocket costs 
  • 100% favorable ease-of-use reviews from employees 
  • Real-time visibility on expenses by employee, date, and/or category 
  • Fast, personalized attention from customer care 

Esler Companies is the biggest affiliate of Renewal by Andersen, the top manufacturer of replacement windows and doors, with 12 entities and a presence in nine U.S. regions. Its 400 card-holding employees charge between $1.5 and $2.5 million in reimbursable expenses per month. As corporate controller, Michael St. Onge oversees all financial operations and systems analysis across all of Esler Companies’ entities and markets.

Challenge: A mid-sized company with outsized expense tracking needs

St. Onge joined Esler Companies just as the organization was integrating an employee expense tracking system that cost approximately $225,000 annually. With their legacy product, employees charged expenses on bank-issued credit cards and then had to manually enter details for each transaction into the system. However, expense reports were only submitted monthly, so discrepancies often crept in. “We’d tell our people to save their receipts until the end of the month. But paper receipts get jammed into pockets, washed in the laundry, often lost altogether,” said St. Onge. “So problems began to snowball.”

Plus, he and his team weren’t getting sufficient support from customer service, especially when it came to implementing changes to their account.

It was soon clear to St. Onge that the legacy product was not the right fit. “I was really surprised at its ineffectiveness, from both a user and a back-end perspective, given what this organization needs,” he said. “There were just so many issues with that system.”

“Just making simple changes (to the legacy system) required setting up an appointment with customer service, which usually had to be after-hours because the support team was offshore. Still, it was sometimes weeks before changes took effect.” –Michael St. Onge, Corporate Controller, Esler Companies

Solution: A single system that’s better for users and administrators alike

Once Esler Companies decided to make a change, St. Onge carefully analyzed the alternatives. “This was important; I didn’t want to just look at one other system and go with that,” he said. “I did a deep dive to see which of the other approaches would best align with what we needed.” Center emerged as the clear winner for several key reasons: 

  • A holistic solution from credit card to expense platform. 
  • An easy-to-use interface. 
  • Simplicity and accuracy on the back end. 
  • Real-time expense activity visibility.  
  • A seamless change management process. 
  • Zero usage fees. 

“Everything with Center is about simplicity. It’s simple to set up, implement, modify, and use. Even in an organization like ours, which has 12 different legal entities, all I have to do is separate them in our monthly report. I doubt it even takes me a half-hour, and boom – I can get on with my life.” –Michael St. Onge, Corporate Controller, Esler Companies

For St. Onge, the benefits of transitioning to Center were immediate and noticeable. He stopped receiving calls from employees frustrated by the legacy system’s confusing interface. Instead, employees told him how easy it was to switch to their CenterCards and use the intuitive mobile app.

“The feedback we’ve gotten has been nearly 100 percent positive. I’ve never seen that kind of response. Everyone says that Center is such an improvement over what we had before.” –Michael St. Onge, Corporate Controller, Esler Companies

Center’s superlative customer service is a valuable bonus, according to St. Onge. “If I ever have a question, I send an email and get a response right away – even if it’s to tell me they’re researching my question and will get back to me,” he said. “I am consistently well taken care of by the support team at Center, especially my dedicated account manager.”

Impact: Improved bottom line, increased employee productivity, superior customer support

Center delivers all that Esler Companies needs in an expense tracking solution… and more. Card-using employees appreciate the process for its elegance and its ability to free up time for revenue-generating activities. Company leadership appreciates the significant cost savings.

For St. Onge and the rest of the finance team, the bottom line is about both time and money. “I used to spend five to ten percent of my work time managing the legacy system. I was always having to set up employees, field questions, or respond to concerns,” recalled St. Onge. “With Center, I spend a few minutes a day monitoring the system, then only about 30 minutes at the end of the month submitting reports. Combine that with amazing customer service. We’ve just had a great experience.” With Center, Esler Companies get: 

  • Major, measurable time and cost savings. Expense tracking tasks that once took hours now take only minutes for the accounting team to complete – all with no processing fees.
  • Easy-to-use expense tracking tools at employees’ fingertips. The CenterCard and the intuitive Center app keep the process simple, inspiring a 100% favorability rating among users.  
  • On-demand spending data. Accountants and department leads can view expense behaviors and track trends in real-time. 
  • Customer support when and where it’s needed. Center delivers personalized, responsive support that accommodates Esler Companies’ schedule, not the other way around.  

“The difference between Center and what we used before is night and day. It’s a total shift and a really big deal. The more accounting and finance folks who know about Center the better.” –Michael St. Onge, Corporate Controller, Esler Companies


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